Virus and parasite may cause bee ‘colony collapse disorder’

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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Researchers have identified potential culprits behind the wide-spread catastrophic death of honeybees around North America and Europe.
Culprits. A team of scientists from Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and University of California San Francisco identified both a virus and a parasite that are likely behind the recent sudden die-off of honeybee colonies.
Using a new technology called the Integrated Virus Detection System, which was designed for military use to rapidly screen samples for pathogens, scientists last week isolated the presence of viral and parasitic pathogens that may be contributing to the honeybee loss.
Confirmation testing was conducted by scientists at the University of California San Francisco.
Scientists presented the results of their studies recently to a United States Department of Agriculture working group, hastily convened to determine next steps.
Collapse. For the past year, experts have observed a marked decline in the honeybee population, with entire colonies collapsing without warning.
Approximately 50 percent of hives have disappeared and researchers around the country are scrambling to find out why.
Scientists have termed this phenomenon “Colony Collapse Disorder” and fear that without honeybees to pollinate crops like fruits, vegetables and almonds, the loss of honeybees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact around the world.

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